A quick post weekend note to tell people that yes I survived the Grand Fondo Novi Ligure. I have to say that 2 hours after completing 103km's, 1300m of climbing and expending 3100 calories over 4hrs 43mins I am sore but very happy. What a day. I never imagined I could or would do something like that.
There were somewhere close to 3000 riders at the event. I guess there were a couple of hundred women, but its hard to tell .... I looked down at the sea of legs before the start and I swear not one person had failed to shave their legs . . . Except for me of course. I never thought I'd say that amongst 2000 plus men i felt out of place because i hadn't shaved my legs. Yikes!
The start was challenging. There's this huge surge as everyone starts to move forward. Mrs IBC and support crew (Jessie, the westie) told me that the noise of bike riders clicking into their pedals was unbelievable. The first 30km's were the fastest flat and uphill sections I've ever ridden. Even with the advice of the Brun's that I shouldn't try and go to hard I still a managed to hit 46kph on the flat leading out of town. And I was getting passed by 100's of riders.
I eventually calmed down, especially after seeing the first two hill climbs claim half a dozen riders who tried to pass people on the descends at 60plus km. On one nasty spot I passed a rider lay by the road surrounded by some friends, legs bleeding I heard him say that the last he'd seen of his colnago was as it flew over the hillside. God knows when it stopped as the hill was a negative 4 degree down run. I saw plenty of ambulances and a rider on a stretcher with leg in one of those blue restrictive braces. . . Clearly broken.
After the carnage had settled I started to get into a rhythm and at the back end of the course worked with 3 other riders to form a train and push ourselves forward through a head wind which whistled down the valley. It felt good to ride in the group and I guess we averaged more than 30kph for the 10km stretch.
Around the the 70k mark we start the final series of climbs it was pretty tough,
especially the last climb. Luckily there was another rest stop to get water and a BBQ'd veal roll at the top before the final 25k's into town. On that last climb I saw plenty of pain. I had the satisfaction of catching a rider who had dogged me for most of the day in his Saxo Bank Swiss national champion shirt. Clearly in pain he had dismounted and was walking his bike up the last section of 9 degree hill to the rest stop. I actually felt sorry for him. I guess that's the pointing these events, once you get past the adrenalin rush you race the clock and yourself and work with other participants rather than against them.
The last 25k's were hell. At 85k's I thought I was gone. Seriously I started to realize what marathon runners meant about hitting the wall. You go into this auto pilot mode where it's only the rhythm and the cadence that keeps you going. I saw a rider from the semi pro group trying to change a tubular tire by the road. I have no idea how to do that so I wished him luck and decided that my selection of my Eason EA90SLX clinchers had been wise, even if they lack the looks or the 250g's of less weight that my Campagnolo Bora's would have provided.
During the last 10k's I just wanted to give up. I got passed a few times, but I kept going until I could see the finishing arch. I put my head down and tried my best to finish with style. I upped the cadence to a pro-ish 90rpm and crossed the line waiting for cheers. I got none, but who cares. The scene was fantastic and I got a big kiss from both members of the support crew when they finally arrived. I was shattered. No one told me that it's almost impossible to sit down afterwards. It's as though your body just wants to stretch out.
Later as I was piling the bike into the back of the car I was approached by a really friendly Scottish guy who told me that he envied my bike and that I just had to ride the other 4 legs of the Cup. I'm not sure as he was at least 10kg's light than me and was able to quote the climbing meters by heart. We'll see.
I will be uploading stats and photos on Thursday. Apologies for the gaps that will appear in the blog until I get back to Geneva.